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CES 2008 Blu-ray Player Announcements

Posted on Tuesday, January 8th, 2008 7:07 PM. Last Updated on Wednesday, January 9th, 2008 9:15 PM by Scott Jentsch

A large list of Blu-ray players were announced at the 2008 CES in Las Vegas, Nevada this week.

Most significant this year is the announcement of Profile 1.1 (Bonus View) and Profile 2.0 (BD-Live) functionality, which is a long time in coming. Bonus View features are just being introduced on the first movie titles this month, and Disney has announced that they will include BD-Live features in their upcoming releases of National Treasure, Finding Nemo, and Sleeping Beauty. The addition of these two features finally brings the Blu-ray player line-up to match that which has been available on HD DVD players for over a year (although HD DVD players received 1080p24 support just this September).

We do not recommend buying a Blu-ray player without at least Bonus View functionality, and if possible, get a player that has or can be upgraded to include BD-Live as well. Regardless of how you feel about online interactive features, the network connection required by BD-Live makes it easy to update the player's firmware as updates are made available, and who knows what kind of features may be possible in the future?

In our opinion, at these prices, it's a good idea to prepare as much as possible for an unknown future.

Recommended Reading

Blu-ray Players Announced at CES 2008

Samsung BD-UP5500 Duo HD PlayerSamsung BD-UP5500 Duo HD Player

Features HD DVD and Blu-ray playback, with Blu-ray Bonus View (Profile 1.1) capability. HDMI 1.3 with CEC functionality. Ethernet connection provides for firmware updates, but it is unclear if this player will be BD-Live (Profile 2.0) compatible. Video features include 1080p24. Audio decoding includes PCM, DTS-HD High Resolution and Master Audio, and Dolby TrueHD via HDMI.

Availability: 2nd Half of 2008
Price: $599

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Samsung BD-P1500Samsung BD-P1500

Bonus View (Profile 1.1) capability. HDMI 1.3 with CEC functionality. Ethernet connection provides for firmware updates, but there is no mention if this player will be BD-Live (Profile 2.0) compatible; we're assuming that it can't. Audio decoding includes PCM, DTS-HD High Resolution and Master Audio, and Dolby TrueHD via HDMI.

Availability: June 2008
Price: $399

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Panasonic DMP-BD50Panasonic DMP-BD50

Panasonic's DMP-BD30BK is one of the best standalone players currently ln the market, so our expectations are highest for this model than any other player introduced. Bonus View and BD-Live compatible. Internal decoding of Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, along with bitstreaming capability to HDMI equipped receivers, as well as analog audio outputs that supply decoded output of the lossless audio formats. An SD slot allows for HD viewing of AVCHD video or JPG stills in full 1920x1080 resolution.

Availability: TBA, but estimated at Spring 2008
Price: TBA, but estimated at $500+

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Philips BDP7200Philips BDP7200

Bonus View compatible with 1080p24 video output and deep color support over HDMI, which also has CEC capability. Press release has no mention of audio format support, but it does have 5.1 channel analog outputs.

Availability: April 2008
Price: $349

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Sharp BD-HP50USharp BD-HP50U

Bonus View, but probably not BD-Live functionality. Video support includes 1080p24. Audio format support includes Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD (but no mention of DTS HD Master Audio) via HDMI. Onboard audio decoding is listed as Dolby Digital Plus only. Sharp boasts a "proprietary Quick Start feature, which takes viewers from disc loading to viewing in less than 10 seconds."

Refreshing is the mention of compatibility with multiple disc formats: BD-ROM/RE/R, DVD Video, DVD-RW/R, DVD+RW/R, and audio CDs. Such compatibility cannot be assumed with all Blu-ray players. The player can be controlled externally via its RS-232C port, which is used by high-end control systems made by companies like Crestron.

Availability: May 2008
Price: $700

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Funai NB500Funai NB500

Funai isn't a familiar name, but they produce electronics items that are sold in discount retailers like WalMart under the brand name of Funai, Symphonic, Emerson, and Sylvania. Their first Blu-ray player includes Bonus View functionality and their press release also mentions HDMI 1.3a functionality with deep color, high bitrate audio, and CEC. An SD slot is also included for data playback from digital camcorders.

Availability: 2Q 2008
Price: Less than $300

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Marantz BD8002

Perhaps about as far away from Funai's price point as you can get, Marantz is showing their $2100 BD8002 Blu-ray player. Along with the expected Bonus View functionality, this high-end rig sports a Realta chipset for the best possible upsampling of your standard definition DVDs across its HDMI 1.3 connection. The press release mentions audio output of Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio via both 7.1 analog outputs and PCM audio via HDMI (no mention of bitstream support).

Additional video support checkboxes include VCDs, SVCDs, MP3s, WMA and DivX, as well as JPG images.

Availability: 2Q 2008
Price: $2,100

Related Links

 

Notable in their absence from this list is anything from Sony and Pioneer. We'll keep our eyes peeled for reports from the show floor and for press releases, so check back for updates to this posting!

Update: We found this post on DVDTown.com that says that Sony will continue its current (underfeatured) players until the second half of 2008. At that time, they will introduce two players (currently dubbed Sapphire 3 and 4) that will have both Bonus View and BD-Live functionality. Something tells me that people will have made other choices by then, and will have passed their current, less-featured players over in favor of something more capable.

Update: In this article by Video Business, Pioneer does not have any new Blu-ray players to show off at CES, but offered some vague predictions:

Choosing to keep details under wraps, Chris Walker, senior manager of product planning and marketing at Pioneer, said the company will launch several players, some less expensive and some more expensive, in 2008. The company also will launch its first BD Live, or Web-enabled, hardware next year.

One would hope that they are actually talking about 2008 when they say "next year" because if they're waiting until 2009, someone is drinking too much of their own kool-aid. Also disturbing is a comment that they won't stoop so low as to offer a $299 Blu-ray player. After all, how would any self-respecting enthusiast place such a "cheap" $99 player next to their new "Kuro" plasma TV? Such arrogance is really annoying.

Update: Blog site betanews.com posted an entry today about Panasonic's and Sony's upcoming players. Nothing was new about the former, but they were able to supply some tidbits about Sony's prototypes.

Apparently, the Sony staff wasn't concerned that their standalone players were looking a little pathetic in light of those listed above. Since a large (really large) percentage of buyers have the Playstation 3, they figure that anyone interested in more than just hitting "Play" would have bought the gaming rig instead. Let's hope they weren't talking to the product managers for the BDP-S300 and BDP-S500 at the time!

Here is a rundown of the highlights of the two Sony prototypes, according to BetaNews:

Sony Sapphire 3 (Prototype)
- BD-Live and Bonus View capable
- Network Firmware update
- BD/DVD/CD playback
- Full HD 1080p video output and 24P True Cinema
- AVC HD playback with x.v.Color video output

Sony Sapphire 4 (Prototype)
- BD-Live and Bonus View capable
- Network Firmware update
- BD/DVD/CD playback
- Full HD 1080p video output and 24P True Cinema
- AVC HD playback with x.v.Color video output
- Advanced Audio Codec support

 



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